Axel Vicious hires some Mercenaries!

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  • Hello all, sorry I’ve not touched the blog in a while but tournament games have been a bit thin on the ground since Coronavirus hit so I’ve not had any face to face games since March. I do have a tournament I need to write up so I’ll be doing that soon, honest. Anyway, it’s not like I’ve been quite on the ninth age, started a podcast and have played in 2 on line tournaments with the Beast Herds now, you can hear all about them on the Podcast. If I posted bat reps for them here I’d just be repeating myself. You can see a Battle Report of mine in the latest Ninth Scroll as well, so go check that out.
    All I will say about the Beast Herds is that I love the Minotaur Warlord, he’s what all combat lords should aspire to be. Minotaurs are great, ambushing is really fun and Chariots are the most hit and miss units in the game. I really dislike Centaurs, I think it’s me rather than the Centaurs themselves, I just don’t use them right and they die, a lot. It’s probably because I refuse to use Druidism so I can’t protect them.
    I have also been busy painting for the Tale of Slow Painters we are doing, which is basically a project with the goal of painting 400 points worth of models every two months for 10 months. Afterwards we will all get together and have a mini tournament with our 2000 point forces of excellently painted armies. Here’s some of what I’ve been doing and you can check out the forum here.





    I’m not here to talk about Beast Herds though, that’s what the podcast is for. Today I wanted to do a bat rep with a difference, the difference isn’t just that the game took place entirely on UB (I like UB but for Bat Reps I like to have pictures of models), I used a new army. In fact it’s an unofficial army from the Homebrew section and is the fruits of one man’s labour. I’m using the Grand Companies of the Mercenary States.
    The army is essentially the old Dogs of War army from the world that was but there is so much more variety to it than there has ever been before. I would say that there is perhaps too much variety as the book clocks in at 41 pages, which I think is the biggest slim Army Book out there. There’s a lot of different unit choices in the book and there’s so much variation within each unit choice too that this is really the Swiss army knife of armies. Versatility is listed as their army strength and the book definitely has that. The weakness is that they are relatively low discipline and the whole army relies upon the paymaster who is the BSB for the army but if he dies then all units within his Commanding Presence range must take a Discipline check at -1 Discipline, fail that and your army could be running for the hills. I’m not going to go into the rules too much, I’d suggest checking out the army book here and having a read for yourself.
    By far the hardest part of using this army is trying to come up with a legal list, the book is split into 5 sections; Characters, Core, Special, Best Money Can Buy and Legendary Curiosities and Armoury. Each has its own percentage cap that your army must adhere to which all seems fairly sensible. However, as I mentioned before, almost every unit can be customisable and by giving certain units certain upgrades can make their points count towards a different section or mean they suddenly come out of that section and not the section they are available in.
    Example – Crossbows are a Core unit, with the Veteran upgrade (3+ shooting upgrade) they no longer count towards Core but now come out of the Best Money Can Buy Category, give them Light Armour too then they would come out of the Legendary Curiosities and Armoury section instead. If you upgrade the Crossbows to Dreadnoughts (1+ armour and a 6++ Aegis against Range) then they count towards both Core and Legendary Curiosities and Armoury. It gets confusing fast and is difficult to keep track of so having an app work it all out for you is definitely the easiest way to do it and I think the army is on Army Builder which would make the job easier.
    Anyway, after several rewrites I came up with a list:
    Commander, City State Falerii, Paired Weapons (Heroes Heart), Destiny’s Call = 340
    Captain, City State Regillum, Crossbow (Domingo’s Arbalest), Shield = 240
    Quartermaster, Plate Armour (Alchemists Alloy), Shield (Dusk Forged), Paychest and Bodyguard, Obsidian Rock = 310
    Guild Wizard, Pyromancy, Wizard Master, Talisman of the Void = 420

    16 Crossbowmen, Veteran, Dreadnoughts, Champion, Musician = 434
    15 Crossbowmen, Musician = 240
    35 Pikemen, Full Command, Pistol Champion, Legion Standard = 444
    10 Freelancers, Shield, Lance, Full Command = 440
    16 Paymasters Bodyguard, Plate Armour, Shield, Champion and Standard = 264
    6 Veteran Mercenary Ogres, Iron Fist, Plate Armour, Devastating Charge, Musician, Champion = 676
    15 Mercenary Dwarfs, Veteran, Pirates, Musician, Champion = 445
    Black Powder Artillery, Cannon = 245

    4498
    It turned out to be illegal as I had calculated the cost of the Ogre Mercenaries wrong but for the purpose of the battle it made little difference.

    Basically I wanted to take a list that contained the majority of the Mercenary units that I have like the Pikes, Crossbows and definitely the Dreadnoughts!



    I needed to see some Seeker Pirates on the table to see what they could do and people rightly fear Ogre Merc Vets so I wanted to test them out too. The nice thing about the Mercenary States army is that you have access to almost every Magic Lore so you can take units, like the Seekers, who would never normally get any Magic Buffs and give them any buff you like. I’m sure there’s some broken combos out there but I have yet to find them. I chose Pyro as my Lore just because I’ve never taken it and I wanted to see it in action, plus Flaming Swords works well with all my shooting.
    Some pointers for my list for the uninitiated, My Commander is my General and the Falerii City State means that when his unit is charged they can perform a combat reform as the charge reaction, amazing on Pikes! The Captain is form the City State of Regillum and means that he ignores soft cover when shooting, if he was the general he would give it to his unit too (75 points!, rip off). However, it needs to be taken so I can take the Dreadnoughts (which he can’t actually join). Domingo’s Arbalest is a Crossbow Upgrade that gives him one S5, AP2, D3 Wounds shot. Quartermaster is my Paymaster and acts as the BSB, he’s “mounted” on an ogre bodyguard and has a 1+ Rerollable Armour Save.
    Pikes are like Spears but you strike at Agility 10 when charged and they are an extra 2 AP when charged (so AP3). I like the Pike rule a lot and I think it encapsulates them perfectly. Charging head first into a unit of pikes should be suicide.
    My first opponent with this is the my co host of the Paired Weapons Podcast, Mr Matty P. He had free reign about what army he could take and took the Warriors, an all mounted Warriors list too.
    Chosen Lord, General, Black Steed, Trophy Rack (Wasteland Torch), Shield, Hell Forged Armour (Death Cheater), Great Weapon, Wrath, Dark Prelate.
    Sorcerer, Veil Walker, Black Steed, Wizard Master, Evocation, Plate Armour (Alchemist’s Alloy), Paired Weapons.
    Barbarian Chief, Black Steed (Prized Stallion), Heavy Armour (Ghostly Guard), Paired Weapons (Shield Breaker), Dragonfire Gem.
    Barbarian Chief, Black Steed (Prized Stallion), Shield, Heavy Armour (Basalt Infusion), Light Lance (Touch of Greatness).
    15 Barbarian Horsemen, Light Lance, Shield, Full Command (Stalker’s Standard).
    15 Barbarian Horsemen, Light Lance, Shield, Full Command (Banner of Speed).
    6 Feldraks, Halberds, Full Command (Banner of Discipline).
    10 Warrior Knightsm Great Weapons, Wrath, Full Command (Zealot’s Banner).
    5 Flayers, Shield, Bow
    7 Warhounds

    So my Pyro was going to be pretty useless in this fight. There are 2 main threats that worry me, the Knights and the Feldraks, the rest I can take care of. With his army being so quick my shooting is going to be pretty ineffective. There’s a lot of Armour in the list too and I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with it all as I don’t think Matt is dumb enough to charge head first into my Pikes.
    Deployment for this game was Frontline Clash and the Secondary was Spoils of War, a scenario that only favoured the Warriors I thought due to their speed.
    Spell wise I took, Fireball, Pyroclastic Flow, Flaming Swords and Cascading Fire. Matt took Hellfire, Ancestral Aid, Spectral Blades and Danse Macabre (an unusual choice for a Warrior army I must admit).
    Matt won the roll for sides and I let him Drop first so I could counter deploy. We ended up as shown, the Hill in the centre was proving to be a headache for both sides as neither of us wanted to be the first one on top of the hill. I left my ogres covering the hill and the left flank to try and keep the Feldraks honest and hoping the Cannon could whittle them down. The Dreadnoughts are going to be useless in this game as they won’t be receiving any shooting attacks so their main selling point is null and void now, they are just very expensive Crossbows (They are grossly overcosted I believe but I’m going to keep using them). The Pikes and Commander need to keep the right flank from collapsing. I ended up putting my Wizard in with the Pikes, I wanted to put him in a unit of Crossbows but the Warriors are so quick that I can’t keep the Crossbows out of combat for long enough. At least in the pikes whatever goes into them will hopefully die before they can attack my Wizard.



    Warriors 1
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    Not much to say for this turn, the army ran forward. The Barbarians on the right are on the objective and the Knights are right next to them, looking pretty bleak for the Dreadnoughts. The rest of the army was a bit scared of the hill so kept behind it. The Sorcerer joined the other Barbarian Cavalry unit. The Feldraks moved around the left of the hill.
    In Magic there’s only one spell I wanted to stop, Hellfire. Matt got Ancestral Aid on the Knights and I let it through which left 4 v 5 dice on Hellfire, Matt rolled a 16 on his 4 dice and I couldn’t beat it with my 5 dice. It killed 6 Seekers, which was incredibly annoying as I need as many bodies as possible for those guys.





    Merc 1
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    Very little movement from me. I move the Seekers up to try and chaff the Knights and also to shoot my Brace of Pistols at them. Everything else turns a bit, nothing drastic.
    In magic I get a 2D6 Pyroclastic Flow on the Barbarian Horsemen on the right and only kill 3 of them. I then also get off a bubbled Flaming Swords with my 4 dice versus his 5.
    Shooting next and the Cannon hits the Feldraks and kills 1 of them. The Crossbows in front of them with the Captain only does 1 wound to the Feldraks. The Pirate Seekers shoot at the Knights and kill 2 of them. The Dreadnoughts kill 4 Barbarian Horsemen but they pass their Discipline check, booo!





    Warriors 2
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    The Warrior Knights charge into the Seekers who Stand and Shoot but it does nothing. The Barbarian Chief with the Lance charges into the Dreadnoughts, who also Stand and Shoot but it does nothing. The Barbarian Horsemen on the right pick up the Objective and now runaway to keep it safe. The Flayers run in front of the Pikes to chaff them and the Warhounds chaff up my Ogres. With the Warhounds chaffing the Ogres the Feldraks and the Horsemen push up.
    That will teach me for ignoring his chaff with my shooting last round, I really wanted to panic off the Barbarian Horsemen last round though.
    In the magic phase I dispel Spectral Blades on the Knights but Matt then casts Ancestral Aid on 3 dice on the Knights and rolls a triple 5, which means he forgets the spell from now on, so I definitely let that through.
    The Knights easily kill the Seekers but they do at least 2 Knights in return. The Knights overrun but not very far. The Barbarian Chief only manages to kill one Dreadnought, who do no wounds in return and we stick and reform deep.





    Merc 2
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    I have a choice to make now, my bodyguard unit is looking in some serious danger right now, I could do some reform shennanignas to buy them another turn or I could charge the problem head on. I decide for the Latter and charge the Bodyguard unit into the Knights (they have Devastating Charge ( Lethal Strike) so it’s not completely insane). I charge the Pikes into the Flayers and the Ogres into the Warhounds. I’m really struggling with what to do with the Freelancers as they are actually pretty awful Knights and would get slapped about by the Feldraks so I need to keep them in reserve until it’s either time to strike or time to run and get the objective.



    With my Wizard now in combat with the Flayers my magic is limited. I only cast Cascading Fire and cast it on the Barbarian Horsemen on the Objective, hoping to panic them. I kill 3 of them but they pass their panic test.
    With the shooting I target everything at the Feldraks and do 3 more wounds to them, killing one more and taking them down to 4.
    In combat my Ogre Merc Vets make short work of the Warhounds and turn to face the Feldraks and the Barbarian Horsemen, so that neither can get a flank charge on them. The Dreadnoughts fight the Barbarian Chief and lose two of their numbers, they do no wounds in return but pass their steadfast break test.
    Before I do the Pike fight I have to do the Bodyguard v Wrath Knights combat so I know how to pivot my Pikes after they win. Matt puts all of his Lords attacks into my Quartermaster and by some miracle only does a wound to me. I put all the attacks from my Paymaster and his Body Guard plus the unit themselves onto the Wrath Knights, despite having Lethal Strike and a fair few attacks I only kill 1 Knight. The Knights kill 6 Paymaster’s Bodyguard in return and I lose combat. I’m stubborn though as the Paymaster’s Bodyguard unit have Bodyguard (unsurprisingly) and they pass.
    Lastly the Commander easily kills the Flayers on his own and I pivot the unit to face the flank of the Wrath Knights, I’m hoping I can stick around for one turn so the Pikes can come to the rescue.





    Warriors 3
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    The Feldraks have a variety of target s they could charge but opt for the easy option and charge the Crossbows. I stand and shoot but do no wounds. In a move I didn’t see the Barbarian Chief charges out of the central Barbarian Horsemen unit into the Bodyguard combat. The Sorcerer leaves the unit and hides behind the hill whilst the Barbarian Horsemen turn around and run off with the Objective. The other Horsemen hide in the corner, safe from me getting them.
    In Magic the Sorcerer only gets off Hellfire on the Merc Vets and kills 1 of them.
    In combat The Feldraks kill 9 Crossbows and I do no wounds in return, I’m not steadfast after that and break from combat. The Feldraks don’t pursue and instead pivot to face the flank of the Merc Vets. The Dreadnought fight is a pillow fight and nothing of note happens.
    Onto the Paymaster’s combat and the I now realise I should have issued a challenge last round (I really don’t know why I didn’t). I can’t issue one this round because the Barbarian Chief has Shield Breaker and armour is my only defence on the Paymaster. So I just have to take whatever punishment is coming his way. The Chosen Lord attacks the Paymaster and only does a wound again. This time though all the remaining Knights that can attack the Paymaster, do attack the Paymaster. They do 2 wounds to him and kill him. The Bodyguard kill 2 Knights this time but I lose 5 more in return and break from combat. Both units give chase and the Barbarian Chief is able to clip the flank of the Ogres. As the Knights pursued first they prevented the Chief from making contact with 2 of the Ogres and instead just ends up fighting one of them on the corner (not sure we played that right).





    Merc 3
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    I charge the Pikes into the rear of the Warrior Knights, hoping that the Ogres don’t need the help of the Pikes to kill a Barbarian Chief. I rally the Crossbows and march the Freelancers onto the Objective but I’m going to need some luck to get rid of one of those Barbarian Horsemen units with the other two objectives.
    In Magic I get off Cascading Fire again but the smaller Horsemen unit is out of 24” so I have to target the bigger unit of Horsemen near the Hill. I do 5 wounds this time but yet again they pass Matt passes his panic test.
    In shooting I have the choice of shooting the Cannon at the Feldraks or the Sorcerer. I foolishly target the Feldraks, hoping for a panic check but also thinking I was unlikely do 3 wounds to the Sorcerer. So I shoot the Feldraks and do 4 wounds to them, killing one and making them take a Panic check, which they pass. Really should have shot the Sorcerer.
    In Combat I do the Merc Vets first and the Barbarian Chief does 3 wounds to them. I attack back and I’m able to do 2 wounds to the Barbarian Chief. I lose combat but I’m still Steadfast, so I roll a 10 for my Discipline check and break from combat! I really needed them to stick around. The Barbarian Chief chases them and runs them down. Guess we’ll never know if the Merc Vets are worth their points or not now.
    Dreadnought fight is another none fight, we’re both standing around having a chat I think.
    In the other combat I issue a challenge with my Unit Champion which the Chosen Lord has to accept. He kills my Unit champion easily. The Wrath Knights put all their attacks on my Wizard and kill him, which is annoying but not unexpected. I then put all my attacks on the Knights and wipe them out. The Chosen Lord is the only one left and has lost combat by quite a lot and breaks. I give chase with the Pikes but don’t catch the Lord.
    (I was too sad to take a screenshot ;( )



    Warriors 4
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    The Chosen Lord rallies, The Barbarian Chief moves behind the hill to give him some cover from shooting next round. The Feldraks move to face the Pikes whilst the Barbarian Horsemen run away from everything. The Sorcerer now realises his error and hides from the cannon.
    Magic does nothing of consequence and the Dreadnoughts continue the staring contest with the Barbarian Chief with no one hurting anyone.




    Merc 4
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    I charge the Pikes into the Chosen Lord to net me those points. I bring the Freelancers round to the centre of the board. I shoot the Crossbows at the Barbarian Chief but do no wounds. The Cannon misfires this time and cannot shoot any more, it’s already done pretty well to be fair with 3 hits and 11 wounds on the Feldraks so I can’t complain about it.
    In Combat the Commander issues a challenge and manages to slay the Chosen Lord on his own and doesn’t take any wounds in return. I turn the Pikes around to face the Feldraks but I really doubt they are going to risk charging the Pikes.
    Something finally happens with the Dreadnoughts! I manage to put a wound on the Barb Chief at last but 3 Dreadnoughts die in return. I fail my Break test and run but the Chief doesn’t give chase.





    Warriors 5
    Display Spoiler

    The Barbarian Chief on the left charges the Crossbows who are too close to stand and shoot. The Barb Horses on the right charge off the Dreadnoughts. The Feldraks turn around and walk away from the Pikes and the Barbarian Chief moves closer to them.
    In Magic the Sorcerer casts Hellfire on the Freelancers and uses a Veil Token so that I have to reroll my armour saves. The spell kills 5 knights but I pass my Panic check.
    In combat I issue a challenge with my Captain and thn he is swiftly murdered by the Barb chief. I fail my break check and they are run down by the chief.



    Merc 5

    I charge the Freelancers at the Feldraks and they hold. If I charge the Pikes at them they are going to flee so I opt for just the Freelancers doing it (It’s a flank charge so I fancy my chances. I fail the charge though, needed an 8 and rolled a 7.



    Turn 6

    Nothing happens in the last two turns, I can’t catch anything and the Warriors run away with the prize. In the end I killed 1801 points of Warriors but the Warriors got 3669 of Mercenaries, making it a 15 – 5 win to the Warriors and 18 – 2 after the objective.
    Well, that was an interesting game and even though I lost by 18 points I never really felt like I was completely out of the game and if some dice rolls had gone my way I could have even won it. If the Merc Vets had held and the Barbarian Horsemen failed a panic it would have been different, not much , I still would have lost but it would have been a bit more respectable. For first game with a new army it wasn’t bad.

    I made some mistakes with deployment I think, I shouldn’t have put the Crossbows and Dreadnoughts so far forward, they didn’t need to be that far forward at all. I should have put the Pikes in the centre of the table and marched them straight up onto the centre objective with the Seekers and Merc Vets either side. That would have been a much better plan. I should have had my Wizard in with the units of Crossbows so that he could have kept on casting magic missiles instead of being stuck in combat and ultimately getting himself killed.
    As for the units themselves I was happy with some of them like the Commander and his Pikes, they did a good job. Heroes Heart and Destiny’s Call is a good combination for an on foot lord, it made him quite the combat threat. I mean, he killed a Chosen Lord on his own, what a boss!
    I was disappointed with the Pyro Wizard but Warriors have got to be one of the worst armies to face with Pyro, unless theirs Wretched Ones running about.
    The Captain did nothing and although he kept hitting with Domingo’s Arbalest he couldn’t wound the Feldraks at all. I think the item needs to either be Strength 6 or come down in price myself.
    The Quartermaster was surprisingly choppy too, he would have survived a bit longer against the Chosen Lord if I actually issued a challenge when I should have. I was happy with his defensive capabilities but I’m sure there’s a better build for him that what I came up with. The Bodyguard mount is great and gives him some punch and also gives me some great ideas for conversions, really want to make one of these. The Bodyguard unit were ok, not rolling any 6s for their Lethal Strike was upsetting but not unsurprising. They got swiftly murdered by the Knights but that’s not that a shock. Against most other units with low strength they’d be a solid unit I think.
    The Dreadnoughts were never going to achieve a great deal in this game as there was no shooting from the Warriors in this game so they never really got a chance to shine. They held up a Barbarian Chief for rounds of combat or so that was good. As for the unit as a whole I still think they are way over costed for what they are, if you’re fighting against any army that is all shooting they would be really good, but such armies just don’t exist and so their main strengths of ranged defence can be mitigated really easily by just engaging them in combat.
    Pikes and Crossbows did their job and I’m happy with both for what my expectations were for them.
    The Merc Vets were a big disappointment, getting flanked by a lucky overrun and then failing a Discipline 9 Break check was unlucky. I don’t think it’s fair to judge them based on this performance, so I’ll give them some more time before I reach a decision.
    Pirate Seekers, they died. I hoped they might have hung around for more than one round of combat but the Hellfire knocking them down to 9 was a disaster for them. Again, I can’t judge them based on this performance but 445 for 15 of them just seems insanely high I think. I feel like you would have to go to some lengths to actually keep these guys alive, like not getting them in combat and hiding from missiles all game. If id didn’t love the models so much I wouldn’t take them.
    Cannon did what a cannon does and even though Matt moans about them incessantly I was happy with this ones performance. Now, if only I shot the Sorcerer when I had the chance.
    All in all a fun game. I will definitely be using the Mercenary States again at some point just as soon as I can come up with a legal list I like. I hope there are plans to make this book one of the supplemental books so that I can get some impetus to paint the models I have for them.

    Until next time, which I hope won’t be long.

    344 times read

Comments 3

  • greentide -

    Following this eagerly. So far played one game with the same army book fielding an elf General on dragon and Lots of pikemen and berserkers^^

    • AxelVicious -

      What are the berserkers like? I'd like to give the Dragon a go but it's so expensive.

    • greentide -

      It is, but finally an opportunity to field one...
      Those that reached combat were awesome, the others, well dead xp